Writing this article, I’m expecting an adverse response. This is obviously a topic resonating with Villa fans, and I hope to give a somewhat different viewpoint on the situation.
It’s been a month since Jack Grealish moved from Villa to Manchester City, and the dust is yet to settle on the record-breaking saga.
Having progressed through our age groups since he was six, Villa and Grealish seemed an unbreakable pair.
For the majority, including myself, the reality of Grealish leaving was impossible to fathom. Even during England’s Euro 2020 campaign, it was surreal seeing the then Villa captain in the colours of another team.
However, when Manchester City moved in for Villa’s talisman in early August, the unthinkable became reality.
This is where I’d like to give my opinion on the matter.
I think the reaction from some of the Villa fanbase has been absurd and quite unbelievable.
On national radio, I heard one apparent Villa fan call Grealish a ‘snake’ and a ‘traitor’.
Last week, a local journalist labelled Grealish ‘smug’, ‘arrogant’ and called his on-camera actions at the England camp ‘distasteful’ – all in the first sentence of his (in my opinion) clickbait driven article.
Sadly, I wasn’t surprised by this publication, nor the tirades of Villa fans on other platforms for that matter.
Ever since Grealish moved on, his name across social media has attracted hateful comments and jibes – from our own fanbase.
How can people treat one of their own like this?
I don’t need to list the impacts Grealish had on Villa – that’s plain and simple. I get that Villa fans are upset by the move (and justifiably) but in what way does he deserve this kind of response
When thinking about writing this article, I often wonder how a similar situation would turn out at another club.
Say Kalvin Phillips moved from Leeds United to Manchester City. Would their fans outwardly neglect the great things he’d done for them, just as Villa fans have done?
Grealish took our club levels above where it was upon his arrival to the first team. He should be lauded for that.
Kids across Birmingham ask for their hair to be cut ‘like Grealish’.
Why can’t we celebrate that?
For the first time in our history, the poster boy of an international tournament played for our club!
Speaking to friends, I know how perceptions of Grealish changed over the summer. I saw fans of rival Premier League clubs don ‘Grealish – 7’ on the back of England shirts.
Whoever he plays for now, and wherever he is in the world, Jack Grealish will always represent Aston Villa Football Club.
I’ve always believed if Grealish left Villa, he’d return at some point later in his career.
In his statement confirming the move away, he did hint at a possible return.
I’m happy I got to see Grealish in a Villa shirt before my own eyes. He’s a once in a lifetime player to have at our club and I’m grateful for the memories he gave me.
Would it be so bad to wish a fellow Villa fan well on his journey?
A career as a footballer is short. Grealish hasn’t time to wait for us to reach his levels.
He wants to compete for as long as he can in the highest club competition in the world. Unfortunately, Aston Villa can’t offer him that. As much as we look on a great path towards eventually reaching the club we once were, that process will still take many years from now.
I’m grateful for what I witnessed of Grealish in a Villa shirt. I never wanted it to end, naturally, but I feel lucky to have witnessed his greatness.
I wish him well and applaud what he did for us.